AMID deliberations on the bill seeking to lower the minimum age of criminal liability, Malacañang on Thursday, January 24, called on Congress to consider inserting a provision that will make "neglectful" parents liable for the crimes committed by their children.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made the suggestion a day after President Rodrigo Duterte said parents would be "ultimately responsible" for the offenses perpetrated by their delinquent child.
Speaking to Palace reporters, Panelo said the Senate and the House of Representatives may opt to listen to the President's "idea" to hold parents accountable, if they are found negligent either "deliberately or recklessly."
"I think there should be some kind of punishment to the parents also who are neglectful either deliberately o rrecklessly. Supposedly, the parents are the trainor of children, the molder of the children to become righteous individuals and good citizens," the Palace official said.
"Baka Congress can introduce provisions to that. In case of children committing crimes, parents prove to be neglectful then should also be accountable," he added.
On the sidelines of an event in Pasay City, the President said Tuesday said he had initially wanted Congress to push for a measure that would punish offenders as young as nine years old in a bid to "instill accountability and responsibility" among them.
Duterte added that making children aged nine and above accountable for their offenses can make parents realize that they lack "supervision and vigilance."
"Alam mo bakit gusto ko iyan? You really want the rationale? Kasi ang gusto ko at that age, pati ang parents must be conscious of the criminal accountability already. Ganoong edad pa lang, inano, pukpukin na because they will be ultimately responsible. Sila ang tatamaan eh," Duterte said in a chance interview.
(You know why I want that [nine years old be punished by law]? You really want the rationale? Because I want that at that age, the parent must also be conscious of the criminal accountability already. At that age, you have to closely monitor them because they will be ultimately responsible. They are the ones who will be affected.)
"Any violation of law ng bata ngayon at nag-kulang 'yung supervision and vigilance ng parents, sila ang idedemanda. Kaya ako ang gusto ko, maaga pa lang, early in life, ganoon na nga tutal hindi naman talaga nakukulong iyan, pupunta lang iyan sa social workers para mag-lelecture," he added.
(The parents, who lack supervision and vigilance, would suffer because of the violation of law perpetrated by their children. That's why I want to discipline children early in life. And besides, they will not be jailed. They just need to attend lecture to be conducted by social workers.)
Under Republic Act (RA) 9344, or the Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act of 2006, lawbreakers aged 15 and below are exempted from imprisonment or other punishment.
But prior to the signing of RA 9344 in 2006, Article 12 of the Revised Penal Code provides that the minimum age of criminal liability was at nine years old.
Duterte said he was "comfortable" with bringing down the minimum age of criminal liability to 12 years old from the current 15 years old, if people deem it unacceptable to hold a nine-year-old child criminally accountable for his unlawful acts.
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives, which initially considered lowering the minimum age of criminal liability to nine years old, amended its version to 12 years old to have it aligned with the Senate version of the bill.
Panelo said the executive was expecting that Congress would act on the President's proposal to specify parents' accountability in the proposed law concerning youth offenders.
"The President is expressing an idea. It's again on the part of Congress to realize that's an idea. If they're open to that, then they can do something about it," he said.
"Siguro [Perhaps, they can include it] in the present proposed bill. Andiyan na ngayon 'yun [It should be included there now]. But we will leave it to the wisdom of the lawmakers. That's a good idea. I'm inclined to have that in the proposed law. Since that is an idea, I'm sure he would want it that way," he added. (SunStar Philippines)